Liane Hobson and Olivia Richardson, Biology
Liane and Olivia were awarded a Leeds for Life Foundation grant to undertake conservation work in South Africa.
“Our project consisted of working for four weeks on games reserves in South Africa, which were divided equally between Kariega, near Port Elizabeth, and Makalali, in Hoedspruit. This allowed us to work directly with conservationists, both to aid conservation projects and to develop our own skills in the process.
The conservation skills we gained during this time were extremely wide ranging and, as we hope to have careers in conservation, it was important for us to learn as much as possible.
We were shown how to set up camera traps in order to monitor the species on the reserve, such as the leopard population. We also learned how to use other techniques including two kinds of telemetry to monitor the populations on each reserve.
We were also taught about how alien species could devastate a habitat, and gained practical experience of control measures.
Our time in Africa taught us many valuable skills, and the experience will undoubtedly aid us in conservation science.”
Clare McMullen, Pharmacology
Clare McMullen, a third year Pharmacology student talks about her extra-circular experiences while at University and her involvement in Leeds for Life.
“I went on the Leeds ‘Raise and Give’ Thailand Project in summer 2009. The experience was fantastic and the people I met throughout the trip were amazing. I developed valuable skills, and my confidence improved.
As soon as I finished the project I wanted to go back, and the opportunity came up to run the project in 2010, so I grabbed the opportunity. The project was in support of Christian Care Foundation for Children with Disabilities (CCD). The CCD aims to improve the conditions, education and quality of life for disabled children and adults.
Leading the Thailand project involved organising two separate groups to volunteer in Thailand working in an orphanage and government care homes. The CCD project provides essential support to families. Along with their English partners ‘4life’, the CCD work in some of remotest parts of country to provide extensive and valuable care to thousands families.The project provides transport, health checkups, organises day trips, educational resources, sports activities, physiotherapy and healthy food.
It was a great opportunity to gain valuable skills, such as team leading and my ability to cope in stressful situations. My work included organising fundraising events, socials, and weekend trips whilst in Thailand. During the project I learnt how to act in stressful, unprecedented and sensitive situations, for instance, how the ever changing political situation could potentially affect the project.
I made some good friends and met some very inspirational people from all over the world, including American, Japan, and Belgium. It is a fantastic way to meet new people from all different cultures and to see how people can bring their skills to a charity and use them in successful and meaningful ways.”
Jane Mitchell, Medical Sciences
Jane Mitchell won the Outstanding Achievement Award at this year’s Leeds for Life Citizenship Awards Ceremony 2011.
Introducing the award, Vice-Chancellor Michael Arthur said, ‘When I read the achievements of the students in this category, I do sometimes wonder how on earth they manage to achieve academically as well as offer so much of their time to helping others. They are truly outstanding young people.’
Jane was recognised for having spent six weeks last year working in a charity hospital in Bihar, India.
Jane said: “I spent 6 weeks of the summer of 2010 working in a charity hospital in Bihar, India with the support of Leeds for Life foundation. As a 1st year Medical Sciences student, looking to study post-graduate Medicine or Nursing, I was eager to further my experience of working in hospitals, particularly in underdeveloped areas. The aim of my project was to work in a volunteer/student capacity in Duncan Hospital in two of the major wards.
As I have lived in India previously, barriers of language and culture weren’t massive issues, and some of the staff there were known personally to me, which is why this particular hospital, in this particular part of India was my first choice.
We arrived in Bihar and were thrown in the deep end almost immediately. The mother and child health wards (labour room, theatre, and the nursery) were bursting at the seams in Duncan Hospital due to the fact that it is the only secondary health referral centre working in the voluntary sector for over 5 million people. Most of the patients are from farming families, with a high illiteracy rate, who often don’t know to come to hospital until they’re in serious trouble.
From the off-set, we gained experience working in the labour room, assisting women and midwives in labour, and taking care of newborn babies immediately after their delivery.
I moved on to the nursery where I worked in a nice quiet environment looking after newborns there. My roles included feeding, changing and washing the babies, as well as monitoring their vital signs. Most of the babies there were born prematurely and were extremely small.
In the afternoons, we helped the doctors with administrative work. In the evenings, we spent resting, sharing stories about our busy workdays, and spending some time enjoying the cool weather when the temperature would finally dip below 35 degrees Celsius!
It is incredible how I am able to match up what I am learning in my modules with various cases I saw in India.
I would like to thank the Leeds for Life Foundation who gave me this amazing opportunity."
Karen Wilton, Biochemistry
What do you hope to go on and do when you graduate from the University of Leeds?
I have tried to keep my options open so at the moment am applying for postgraduate courses and jobs. I think I would like to do a PhD as I really enjoyed my final year research project, and there a few areas I have become interested in that I would like to keep studying. I did a year working for a pharmaceutical company and enjoyed that too but I think doing a PhD will give me more career opportunities in areas that interest me.
What skills and qualities do you think you’ve gained from your course?
I have become very efficient at managing my time and perfecting the work/play balance! I have acquired numerous lab skills through taught lab sessions at uni, as well as my placement and third year placement.
What skills and qualities do you think you’ve gained from co-curricular activities?
I have improved my communication and organisational skills. I have helped to organise trips for the caving society, as well as sorting out a venue, band and menus for our annual dinner. Caving also requires a lot of teamwork so I feel I have improved in this area too. I joined the University’s TV station LS:TV and presented one of the shows, which helped to improve my confidence as well as learning a bit about how shows are made and edited.
How will these skills and qualities help you achieve what you want to do when you graduate?
Having worked for a pharmaceutical company for a year I feel I already have the skills for the workplace. I have learnt numerous lab techniques that companies may require. I also feel I have acquired excellent study and time management skills so could easily take on postgraduate study, which is my preferred option at the moment.
What has been your proudest moment while studying at Leeds?
Securing an industrial placement at MedImmune UK. I was very keen to do a year in industry as I was unsure what career path to take and thought this would be a great way to get a taste of the working world. It was very interesting to see how a pharmaceutical company works and what careers are available. It was also great work experience that I am sure will benefit me in the future when I am applying for jobs.
I also came runner up in the Centre for Biosciences student award, for which I made a short video ‘given your degree, what are you looking forward to in the future?’ I won £50 and my video is now shown on the Centre for Bioscience website. Not only was it fun to make, it gave me a chance to reflect on my time at university and how it had prepared me for the future, and how I wasn’t even sure what that future held!
I also won the ‘most promising new caver’ award after my first year of caving. This was probably due to me going on caving trips every weekend despite having sustained a nasty hand injury on the first ever trip!
How do you think you have benefited from studying at Leeds?
Leeds University has given me excellent learning facilities and the opportunity to tailor my degree, with a choice of modules to study and the option of undertaking a year in industry. Leeds is also a great city to study in, with lots to do and see. The Yorkshire dales are not too far away either and have some great caves to explore!
What advice would you have for students just starting out at Leeds?
Be passionate about your degree, explore Leeds as much as possible and take up at least one crazy hobby.